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City Council Approves Budget for Camp Dearborn Golf Course

The course is expected to break even for fiscal year 2013, which ends June 30.

A revenue and expenditure budget for the Mystic Creek Golf Club at Camp Dearborn—which was repossessed by the City of Dearborn in late 2012—was approved by Dearborn City Council Tuesday.

It's expected that the golf course will come close to breaking even for fiscal year 2013, which ends June 30. Revenues and expenditures for the course are expected at just under $700,000 each.

City officials agreed in October to begin the process to repossess the golf course and banquet center, which has been run by a private company that effectively stopped paying its lease.

The city made a deal with owner Jim Dewling and his company, Total Golf, to buy the property and all assets for $900,000—minus anything Dewling owes on the property, including back taxes and back rent. The final amount, according to Recreation Department Director Greg Orner, came out to $771,000 paid by the city.

The city officially closed on the deal with Dewling on Dec. 16, but had been operating the course since Nov. 1 on a temporary budget of $261,000.

Based on its estimates, Orner explained, the Recreation Department requested an additional $425,650 to fund the course for the rest of the fiscal year.

That total—$686,650 in expenditures—is matched against an expected revenue of $694,500 through June 30.

Orner said the estimates are "conservative," given that his department is still attempting to formulate a solid grasp of the course's buget. As of mid-January, the course had generated $6,000 in revenue over expenditures—and could continue to outperform expectations.

But councilmembers were clear Tuesday in their expectations that a forthcoming business plan for the golf course would help ensure that it does not become a drain on city dollars.

"I'm very cautious not to see general fund dollars going to this," Councilman David Bazzy commented, adding that he hoped Orner's team could come up with a plan that would "give some concrete, realistic numbers to this."

Mayor Jack O'Reilly assured that a more solid business plan would be coming shortly.

"The data we have is the best we could get," O'Reilly said. "We’ll present what we have; we’ll show you the business plan and what we’re doing."

Orner said it's unclear what will happen to the course long term. Now that the city owns the property, the options include continuing to run the course, putting it out to bid to another management company, or using the property to expand Camp Dearborn.

Dewling and Total Golf had been 17 years into a 52-year lease when the agreement was terminated.

Anthony Randazzo January 16, 2013 at 12:37 PM
"putting it out to bid to another management company, or using the property to expand Camp Dearborn." - The sad thing about all this is, all this property ONCE was all of Camp Dearborn...TV3 and TV4. The bright side to this for all the old Camp Dearborn is maybe the powers to be can put it back to somewhat of its natural glory. Here is to hoping!!!!
Pam January 16, 2013 at 01:22 PM
Why are we in the business of running, owning or keeping a recreational property that is not in, or even contiguous to, this city. This is insanity in this economy.
bitsy08 January 16, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Sorry, Pam. Have to ask. Have you even been out to Camp Dearborn? It's a wonderful site. It's been part of Dearborn for as long as I can remember and I hope that it continues. I have a friend who has a small mobile home on property owned by the camp and she pays rent every year to go. She usually spends most of the summer out there with her grandkids. They have programs starting early in the morning and going throughout the day to keep the kids busy - and some adults. I can't imagine any kid being bored out there. What a great place.
Tom B January 16, 2013 at 03:33 PM
How many residents use this facility? They have put major money into the new trailer part with water, sewage and electricity. New cabins. They claim the park is break-even, but they don't even know how many of our residents use it. I ASKED SEVERAL YEARS AGO. It takes 45 minutes to get there. I fish there once a year, but I would be happy to see it go and keep the money in our borders; Pools, parks, etc.
Pam January 16, 2013 at 04:55 PM
I haven't been there in 40 years. I don't expect the city, with my tax dollars, to furnish these types of facilities.
laplateau January 16, 2013 at 05:11 PM
I haven't used Camp Dearborn since my kids were young, but we went every summer back then. I certainly am not once for frivolous amenties that drain our resources, but Camp Dearborn is a jewel. Perhaps the crown is a bit tarnished and rusty, but in recent years they have improved sereral areas that really needed attention. I have often thought about getting a trailer out there for the 45 minute trip to allow my grandkids the oppotunites and enjoyment we used to have. For those who haven't been there that are critical of keeping it, I would certainly suggest a quick drive out there . If you did, you might cange your mind aboiut it.
tammy dougher January 16, 2013 at 07:36 PM
It is sad that so many bash Camp Dearborn when four generations of my family have made it a tradition. Certainly, if you don't want your tax dollars going to Camp, don't move to Dearborn. It has been part of this city for over 50 years. The teens in our family look forward to going with great anticipation. All the arts & crafts, games, sports, dances, pool, lakes & bonfire fun that is a part of Camp are some of the best family memories that we have had generation after generation. Only a 45 minute drive to get out of the city and enjoy safe & wholesome family time. We are blessed to have such a place.
Marci January 16, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Change is inevitable , it happens in other cities where citizens must decide what is best financially. Having lived in Dearborn a few short years I have come to realize Dearbornites hang onto to the past remaining in a time warp. From the outside looking in Camp Dearborn seems like a future money pit. Maybe much of Dearborn took advantage of this in past years and many memories have been made. What percentage of Dearborn actually visits Camp Dearborn now? Why did the golf course go bankrupt? How many Dearbornites used its facility? Is it worh $700,000 of taxpayers dollars to take it back at a time Dearborn cannot take care of recreation facilities within its borders. Also with purchase of new city hall and its move when we have not even secured the sale of the old city hall. Dearborn is NOT what it once was and in my book not really a great place to live as it proclaims. Keep what you've got within your borders, clean up the streets, fill the downtown with interesting places to shop instead of more bars and hookah joints. Wake up from what once was and move forward, otherwise your dear Dearborn is completely falling apart. Many Dearbornites have sold out and moved to other closeby cities offering forward thinking and prosperity.
Marci January 16, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Such as Dearborn Towers in Florida, sorry but inform me of another City who has bought a condominium tower for its citizens. From an outsider this is ludicrous!
AbuHak January 17, 2013 at 12:57 AM
I'm a little worried about the budget if the person leasing the golf course and banquet hall could not make it profitable enough to continue with their lease. I'm afraid Dearborn will wind up pouring more fix-up money into it then sale it in a "sweet heart deal" for a deep discount to a political supporter/friend, so he in turn can sale it at a substantial profit to someone that knows how to run a golf course. It's just the way they do things in Dearborn.
Dearborn Taxpayer January 17, 2013 at 11:45 AM
What budget did the $900K to buy back the "property and equipment" come from? This $$$ is not "free" and could have been used to upgrade local pools right here in Dearborn...
Marie J.Knight February 16, 2013 at 03:04 PM
How can the golf course and the other facilities not make money? Every time we have gone out there or our friends have gone there the golf course was packed, and the banquet facilities had bookings. What has happened to the money? Even 5 years ago a lot of G.M. meetings were held there with golf outings and it was almost impossible to get reservations, but were always told Camp Dearborn and the golf course are loosing money. Some times its a no brainer. Raise the price for entrance fees for 4th of July fire works, gets some one honest & competant to run the golf course and banquet facility.Camp Dearborn is a wonderfull jewel and should never be sold for private housing, just run it properley and raise some fees. And as for the new City Hall , why didnt we buy back the old high school and Jr. high on garrison that had all new updates and ample parking & only sold for half the money. Another problem with the old city hall and this so called artist community is that Red Bull set up the same thing in detroit with free supplies, good job on our elected powers that be who are supposed to check all options before they make decisions. Back to the old city hall why hasnt anything been mentioned about how many millions it will cost to move statues (that probably earned an extra vote ) and all the offices and personel , those millions to purchase and to move could have fixed up the old city hall. Why didnt the city purchase the old high school & Jr. high on Garrison for 1/2 price?
Lee Jacobsen February 16, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Marie, good points , but no answers. Let the military move the statues, and the Hubbard family can move Hubbard's statue, or leave it, as it is art in itself. Regarding costs, Charging prices to cover costs is a basic in any business, problem is, Dearborn does not care about profit, or covering costs, at least not enough to address the issue. The city's primary income stream is taxes. What do other golf courses charge for similar services? It does not take much effort to find out. Remember when Greenfield Village used to have Dinner Theater? They dropped it as they were losing money. Why were they losing money? Tickets for a live play, in a museum, with refreshments, were a whopping $6. Add another $6 for a sit down dinner. Way too cheap. I suspect the real reason was to get rid of the actor's union. Who knows? The lesson? Charge enough to cover costs or reduce expenses. Obama needs to do the latter. Buying an old school with no use in mind is not a good deal, even if it is 1/4 price. Value is only what someone will pay you for it. On that cruise ship, a cold coke would have been worth the price of an old school to the right wealthy person. After the city owns it, then what? Who fixes it up, tears it down, pays the taxes, or loss of taxes.? It could be another charter school I suppose, open in the summer.

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